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In the games the main character always and their rival always start off with their Pokemon Professor giving them a starter pokemon (with the exception to Gold/Silver/Crystal where the rival stole their starter from the professor). in the anime Ash, Gary, 2 unnamed trainers, May and Dawn all got their Pokemon Professor.

But given that there appears to be only 1 Pokemon Professors in each region (Oak = Kanto, Birch = Hoenn, Ivy = Orange Islands, etc.) and we have seen there is so many Pokemon Trainers in the League Qualifiers in the anime it's seems that if every trainer went to the same Pokemon Professor they would be inundated with work looking after everyone's pokemon when they catch more than 6, so much so that Oak shouldn't really have the time to be jet setting around the world like he does for radio shows.

So how does one start off as a Pokemon Trainer if they don't have a Pokemon Professor?

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    As long as I remember (so not much), one only needs a pokemon to be a pokemon trainer. So if you buy some pokeballs and ask someone who has a pokemon to help you, you can have one. In the game you can also buy pokemon – Ikaros Jan 23 '16 at 10:36
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    @Ikaros You could also throw rocks at it, like in the Safari Zone. As long as it is weak or willing enough to become your partner. Heck, one might even win a pokemon through a competition, receive one as a gift or just buy one in a store. With them being so ubiquitous, you might end up saving one and he would want to be by your side out of thankfulness, similar to how people obtain their pets in the offline world. So many options to become a pokemon trainer. – Peter Raeves Jan 24 '16 at 15:38
  • It's nice to have a Pokedex but I guess that's not a requirement as well. – Asa Jan 26 '16 at 8:33
  • Birch is professor from Hoenn, not Johto – JTR Jan 27 '16 at 6:09
  • @JTR my mistake. i thought Birch was the guy Ash had to deliver the GS Ball to – Memor-X Jan 27 '16 at 10:04
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There are all sorts of ways one can get his/her first Pokémon. In the Black and White manga, Black borrows Pokémon from Bianca's father to have mock battles (I don't remember if he actually used them to catch his first Pokémon, but this shows that trainers could borrow someone else's Pokémon to catch their own). In the anime, episode 3, Ash Catches a Pokémon, Ash is able to catch Caterpie without even battling it, so sometimes it isn't even necessary to have your own Pokémon first. Also in the anime, in episode 4 of the XY Season, A Shockingly Cheeky Friendship!, Clemont catches Dedenne for Bonny and says he'll hold on to it until she is old enough to become a Pokémon trainer.

So, clearly one doesn't need to go to a Pokémon professor to start off. One also doesn't need a Pokémon professor to take care of excess Pokémon. In the anime episode Lost Leader Strategey, it is shown that Paul's brother Reggie takes care of his Pokémon.

Information about the referenced episodes can be found at http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/

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    You got the good answer, but consider adding sources or images to strengthen your point! :) – Ikaros Jan 23 '16 at 16:50
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    Wally does the same in RSE, he borrows a Pokemon from your (the player's) father to catch his own. – Coded Monkey Jan 25 '16 at 10:50

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